Vietnam’s thriving tech scene. Indonesia’s ever-growing crypto platforms. Malaysia’s start-up hubs. Southeast Asia’s incredible online culture has always made it a popular spot for remote workers and that’s unlikely to change. That’s without even taking into account everything this part of the world is loved best for, like its picture-perfect beaches and jungles, vibrant food and drink industry, and warm climates.
You’ll probably want to apply for a long-term visa if you’re planning on calling somewhere in Southeast Asia home for an extensive period of time. But, if you’re testing the waters and want to figure out your next step without dedicating too much time or money, you’ll need to know how long you can stay in each Southeast Asian country on a tourist visa.
Covid restrictions continue to fluctuate throughout the world. These are the most recent tourist entry requirements across Southeast Asia but, as with all travel plans, it’s best to double-check each country’s restrictions individually before you book your trip.
Before You Go
While we mention border-hopping as a means of staying for longer in one country, it’s worth noting that not all countries look upon this favorably. Once or twice is probably fine—especially if you have a specific reason to stay longer—but it’s much better to apply for a temporary residence visa rather than hopping continually. Or, take it as an opportunity to explore another wonderful part of Southeast Asia for a while.
You’ll want to bring a handful of recent passport photos, a pen, and some cash with you. Often, you’ll need a photo for your Visa on Arrival (VoA) at the airport and it’s much faster to have one to hand rather than struggling with queues for photo machines. You’ll also want to bring some cash (preferably U.S. dollars) as not all international borders accept cards.
Most countries are granted a 60-day visa on arrival upon entry to Thailand, which can be extended for a further 30 days. Applying for a new VoA is as simple as hopping over the border to Cambodia, Malaysia, or Laos, although Cambodia is the most popular route of the three.
Some nationalities can spend up to 15 days in Vietnam visa-free, while others can apply for a 30-day e-visa, either in advance or on arrival. It’s possible to utilize your visa-free visit and return for another visa-free 15 days, as long as you leave Vietnam for 30 days in between. It’s also possible to apply for a three-month VoA, which can be used for single entry or multiple entries, depending on your travel plans.
Cambodia’s tourist visa is a single entry e-visa and lasts for a maximum of 30 days. You can either apply at the airport when you’ve arrived (and pay the $20 dollar fee there) or you can apply via the embassy in advance, but only up to 30 days before you’re due to travel.
Indonesia (which includes the ever-popular Bali) offers a 30-day, single-entry tourist visa, which can be extended for another 30 days. The initial visa costs $35 and can be extended for $70. The vast majority of Indonesia’s tourist/short-term visas are single entry only and a ferry to Singapore or a flight to Malaysia are the most popular routes for exiting and re-entering.
You can visit Timor-Leste for up to 30 days on a tourist visa, which costs $30. If you’re flying into Timor-Leste (Dili), your visa can be granted on arrival. If you’re crossing the land or sea border from Indonesia, you’ll need to apply for your visa in advance. If you’re looking to stay longer, your visa can be extended for up to a total of 90 days for an additional fee.
150 countries can apply for a free, single-entry, 30-day e-visa in advance to Laos, otherwise known as a “Laos Approval Letter”. 30-day VoAs are widely available throughout Laos’ international entry ports now and each $35 visa only takes a few minutes to arrange. Visa extensions cost between $2-$4 per day (up to a total of 15 days) or $10 per day if you forget to extend in time. If you’re looking to come back for another 30 days, it’s easier and cheaper to leave and return back to Laos.
A Malaysian tourist visa ranges from 30 days to 90 days depending on your nationality. This is stamped automatically as you enter the country and is free. This visa is single entry only and can’t be extended: you’ll need to leave the country (usually to Singapore, Thailand, or Indonesia) to re-enter.
Many nationalities can enter The Philippines visa-free for up to 30 days although some are restricted to seven days and others can stay for as long as 59 days. You can also apply to extend your visa for up to six months at the Bureau of Immigration offices. While you’re free to leave and re-enter, immigration officials are known for flagging tourists who do this repeatedly.
A Myanmar tourist e-visa takes around three days to process and needs to be applied for in advance. This single-entry tourist visa is valid for 28 days and can’t be extended: if you want to stay longer in Myanmar, you’ll either need to apply for a longer visa or you’ll have to leave and re-enter.
Most tourists can enter Brunei for a period of 30 - 90 days depending on their nationality with an e-visa granted upon entry. Nationalities not included on the list above must apply for a tourist visa in advance. Prices vary from $15 to $22 for a 14- or 30-day pass, respectively. You can also choose between single or multiple entries, the latter being a little more expensive. Most visas are processed within three days.
Most visitors to Singapore don’t need a visa and will be granted an automatic entry pass on arrival. This is valid for up to 90 days, making it one of the most accessible options for travelers looking to spend more time in Southeast Asia.
Georgie is a triple-accredited journalist (NCTJ, BJTC, PPA) and freelance travel copywriter and content writer from London, UK. She has written for publications including The Guardian, ELLE...
Stay on top of the latest digital nomad trends with new posts every week